Given the likeliness people have already sought shelter from the weather and the open warming centers throughout the county, this year's efforts for the point-in-time count are being modified, said Lyn Raymond, director of the Lakeshore Housing Alliance. Instead of volunteers spreading out throughout the county looking for those who are unsheltered, Raymond said they plan to have a few volunteers checking stores that are open 24 hours to inquire if people are seeking shelter.
The point-in-time count typically takes place on the last Wednesday in January by the Greater Ottawa County United Way’s Lakeshore Housing Alliance program.
People living unsheltered as well as those living in transitional and emergency housing are the three components that make up the annual count.
Volunteers on Wednesday were to visit various areas not meant for habitation. Today, agencies will ask people if they are experiencing homelessness and where they slept Wednesday night. Raymond said it helps provide comprehensive coverage.
The program uses a countywide database of transitional and emergency housing information. Raymond said they also work with law enforcement officials who encounter homeless people and reach places volunteers wouldn’t be able to go.
The count is one aspect of data that is gathered and used throughout the year.
Raymond noted the point-in-time count takes place one night of the year.
“It's just a snapshot of what homelessness looks like on a night in January,” she said.